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About ljandgb

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  1. We were in Barcelona in June. It was absolutely lovely. We walked or biked all over the city and had no problems. Las Ramblas was a sea of people, and I can see how it would be easy to be pickpocketed there. Virtually everywhere else was more normal crowd levels. We had no problems, including riding the subway, being out late at night, etc. I have a cross body purse.
  2. It probably depends on the time of day, but with no traffic (it was 4:30 am) it was 20 minutes or so.
  3. We stayed there in June. It's a nice hotel. I wouldn't actually consider in El Born, but on the edge. It is a very easy access to the subway (5 minute walk), and the street its on has several restaurants but isn't super loud at night, so considered it a good location. Staff were very nice, room clean, bathroom large. We were on the 4th floor I think, with a room facing the courtyard, so quiet even during the St. Joan festival that was happening.
  4. Great idea. Come June-September for a self drive trip. With your long johns, bring a hat, gloves, scarf, a warm jacket," and a waterproof outer layer if you want to get close to the waterfalls or will be spending any amount of time outside. It rains frequently and sideways. We went the last week in May, and our "summer vacation" family picture has us bundled up like the middle of winter. LOL
  5. It's not deep cold and snow, it's the wind, associated with the fact that Iceland hovers around freezing, so lots of freeze/thaw cycles leaving ice on the road. The gulf stream hits Iceland then turns east. The roads there have electronic wind monitors that locals know to watch to decide if they should proceed. Car doors can get ripped off. Cars can blown right off the road and down steep embankments. A local posted on TripAdvisor about a section of ROAD that got blown off recently, as in the tarmac was stripped off. When you add that to the ice and narrow roads, it can get precarious. Certainly not constantly, but there are many microclimates, so it can easily be nice on one section of your drive, but bad weather an hour or two down the road. We were there in March and had whiteouts, gale force winds, and beautiful sunny warm skies in the span of 4 hours. Many people visit Iceland, have great weather, and talk about how easy it is to drive there. Some experienced drivers get caught in bad weather and say "never again." I've read where perhaps the only climates/driving experience that are similar are northern Canada, the Scottish highlands, and Siberia. Just passing info along. I grew up in Upper Michigan, so have a healthy respect for bad winter weather, but moved to Texas in high school and have done all my driving in the south. No way would I be prepared to drive in Iceland.
  6. Agree with Nitemare, April is still winter and self driving requires vigilance checking road conditions. You should also be familiar with driving in high winds and ice, and how to handle a car if you hit black ice. The roads are elevated, narrow, and have no guard rails. If you really want to self drive, look at lodging for at least one night out of the city. I would consider looking at a 2-3 day tour that includes lodging. That will get you out into the countryside and let experienced locals drive while you can gawk at the scenery and/or snooze a bit from jet lag. Look at south coast tours, or ones that include the Golden Circle or Snaefellsnes. If you stay in Reykjavik, anything in the 101 code is well situated for exploring the city. The Blue Lagoon is nice, but not mandatory. It is near the airport and is often done on the way to/from your flights. Their website has info on the shuttle there - go thru a dummy booking to see your options as it doesn't show up until you have tickets in your cart. If you do want to go, definitely book tickets early, as the prices rise and availability falls.
  7. We used Steel Donkey bike tours on a land trip there. It was a great tour, and super easy, as Barcelona is mostly flat. They even have an option of a electric bike if you really want to take your effort down a notch.
  8. Agree with above and will second that it can be HOT in the summer. Don't be scared to try a European line. We cruised MSC, in concierge, and had a great time, for a crazy cheap price and saved enough to do a week in France before the cruise. The itinerary that fit our schedule included stops to places I'd had no interest in going to and ended up being some of our favorite ports - Mallorca, Sardinia. Europe, and any particular port city, is impossible to see in an 8, 10, or 12 hr time frame. Consider adding a land portion to your trip, but limiting it to 1-2 areas. Many Americans are tempted to "see it all" since they're already across the ocean anyways. There is LOTS of BTDT advice on the boards here, or at TripAdvisor, to help you plan.
  9. Since the OP would be in the Baltics in April, I suspect the likelihood of a heat wave is less. I'd layer. You can get decent lightweight down jackets at a good price online. I bought one for our Iceland stopover and have ended up using it much more than I thought, at home and traveling. I live in central Texas, so also hot most of the year. It also makes other trips to cold climates easier, as I'm already geared up, as it were. My jacket actually stuffs into it's own pocket, making it easier to pack and it makes a nice pillow on the plane.
  10. Agree with all above, and will add that I found the ship especially cool in the evenings. I finally bought a second sweatshirt because I was tired of wearing the same one every night.
  11. Well, it would be hard to "steal" a bag that is slung across my body. I could be mugged and it taken by force, but the likelihood of that is low enough I'm willing to risk it. I like to have a bag to keep a water bottle, hand sanitizer, my daughter's epi pens, and the other random things that moms carry around. Even then, I don't carry my passport, large amounts of money, or more than one credit card regardless in the bag. The zipper locks to the strap, the strap is also slash proof. My bag has a lock on the strap that allows me to weave it into then lock the strap onto a chair, etc, if I'm in a cafe, so as long as I remember to do that, if it is off my body, it's still as secure as possible. Our last cruise, I did travel with a money belt for those times when I had to transport a large amount of cash for paying for tours at the time of service.
  12. We just got back from 4 days there. We used public transit exclusively with no problems. The Moovit app is great about telling you which bus/train/metro to take. Get a zone 1 T10 ticket, which is good for 10 rides on everything but a trip to the airport, the Montjuic cable cars, and the night buses. A "ride" is good for 75 minutes and one ride can include bus/metro/train in sequence. It was 10.20 euro and multiple people can use it. You just run it thru the turnstile then turn around and hand it to your friend/spouse/etc. Totally legit, as the metro workers repeatedly told us the first day. Same for the bus, just pop it in the reader as many times as you have riders. We did a bike tour with Steel Donkey and had a great time. It was 4 hours and we covered 8+ miles, which was shocking as it was easy enough, with enough stops in the shade that I wouldn't have guessed it. We saw most of the main areas of Barcelona, while avoiding most of the crowds. We even stopped half way for coffee and lunch. We also did a Picoeto food tour with Food Lovers, which was a nice intro in the tapas/pinchot culture.
  13. I'll second working with TJ. We used them for our private tour and they were excellent. We added a stop they'd never done, at the request of my cat loving daughter. They were very helpful and accommodating. I'm sure they could help you craft a great tour.
  14. Regarding food choices - as mentioned, there aren't a lot of dining locations on most river ships. There just isn't enough room for multiple venues. There is also a difference between lines as far as the one dining room goes. Some lines have little to no choice on what is being served (same meal for everyone with an option to "opt out" for a chicken breast instead.) Some lines have a wider menu to choose from, some lines have a timed dinner seating, others are come and go. I think one of the biggest differences is evenings. There just is very little to do on a river cruise if the ship is underway. If shows, etc, are a big part of your vacation, you will be disappointed. Some lines set sail before dinner and you are effectively a captive audience until after breakfast, with limited options between - go to your room, sit in the lounge, perhaps enjoy a small concert or talk in the lounge if it's offered. Other lines stay in port until after dinner or overnight. For me, I prefer that, where I have the chance to try local restaurants, explore a bit, etc. Agree a verandah can be very hit or miss. We had a french balcony, and it was great to lay in bed and see out the window - right up until we woke up one morning 18" from the Tauck ship moored next to us. There is always ample seating on the top of the ship to enjoy the scenery.
  15. Connecting rooms can help given the littles a bit more room to move. You can also save money by putting some folks across the hall in an inside cabin. Where you are signed up and where you actually sleep can be different. DCL does't do bed checks. 🙂
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